Key messages

  • Auditing ensures that risk management systems are functioning for recycled water schemes.
  • The frequency of audits depends on the size and risk of the recycled water scheme.

Auditing is key to managing recycled water quality by ensuring risk management systems are in place and functional.

The Australian guidelines for water recycling describe auditing as ‘the systematic evaluation of activities and processes to confirm that objectives are being met.'

Auditing requirements in Victoria

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria Guidelines for environmental management: use of reclaimed water (publication 464.2) specifies that:

  • schemes with a capacity ≥1 ML/day should have an audit program that complies with ISO 14010 – Guidelines for environmental auditing
  • large schemes should consider using a third-party auditor
  • audit frequency should be based on the size and risk of the scheme, for example, every year for schemes with a capacity of ≥1 ML/day, or every three years for smaller schemes.

EPA Victoria's Guidelines for environmental management: dual pipe water recycling schemes – health and environmental risk management (publication 1015) specifies that:

  • under the Environment Protection Act 1970 schemes need to submit statutory audits to EPA Victoria 
  • schemes must have a statutory audit within the first 12 months of commissioning
  • audit frequency should be determined in consultation with EPA Victoria. The frequency depends on the outcomes of the initial audit, but should be at least every three years
  • the audit scope should be developed according to AS/NZS 19011 – Guidelines for auditing management systems.

These guidelines identify management plan performance objectives including:

  • environment improvement plans (EIPs)
  • health and environment management plans (HEMPs)
  • recycled water quality management plans (RWQMPs).

Purpose of audits

Audits ensure that:

  • the recycled water supplier and users are meeting their obligations (in particular, that the management plan provisions have been implemented)
  • compliance issues have been identified and are being managed appropriately
  • system management changes that could affect compliance have been identified and addressed appropriately
  • the preventive risk management system detailed in the management plans is in place, and appropriately addresses risk identification, assessment and management. This includes any inadequacies in risk exposure management (environmental, human health or stock health) and possible publicity issues.

National auditor certification scheme

In the short term:

  • Class A dual pipe schemes still need an EPA Victoria auditor to audit their scheme (under s. 53V of the Environment Protection Act 1970) after their first 12 months of operation and thereafter at an agreed frequency 
  • all other schemes will be encouraged to engage, when available, certified Exemplar Global  auditors to audit their schemes.
  • The guidelines do not currently include formal auditing requirements but encourage large schemes to implement a third-party audit process.

In the longer term:

  • EPA Victoria and the Department of Health and Human Services will review the auditing requirements for Class A dual pipe schemes including introducing requirements for Exemplar Global certified auditors.
  • Any formal changes and requirements will be considered as part of the department’s review of the regulatory framework for alternative water supplies and any future review of EPA Victoria’s recycled water guidance.
  • Recommendations will be considered in EPA Victoria’s independent Compliance and Enforcement Review ensuring that environmental audits are appropriately commissioned and do not impose unnecessary costs.
  • EPA Victoria and the department will consider the current requirements and recommendations for all recycled water audits, and assess whether they are appropriate and effective, as well as any opportunities for improvement.

Becoming an auditor

Water Quality Management System Auditor Certification Program

The Water Quality Management System (WQMS) Auditor Certification Program ensures a consistent approach to auditor assessment across Australia. Certification is required to conduct regulatory audits. The committee for the WQMS program includes representatives from:

Water Services Association of Australia
Victorian Water Industry Association
Department of Health and Human Services (Victoria)
Department of Energy and Water Supply (Queensland)
Department of Health (Western Australia)
Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (New South Wales)
SA Health (South Australia).

WQMS Auditor Certification Program Edition 4

Exemplar Global updated their certification requirements to allow auditors around the world to receive their credentials. Edition 4 allows countries with water safety plans to add to the program's scope, ensuring auditors can meet country-specific guidelines. Table 1 outlines the changes in requirements.

Table 1 Changes in requirements of the WQMS Auditor Certification Program

Requirements area  Edition 4 Edition 3
Grades
  • WQMS Auditor
  • Lead WQMS Auditor
  • Drinking Water QMS Auditor
  • Drinking Water QMS Lead Auditor
  • Recycled Water QMS Auditor
  • Recycled Water QMS Lead Auditor
Scopes
  • Australia: Framework for Management of Drinking Water Quality
  • Australia: Framework for Recycled Water Quality Management and Use
None
Knowledge requirements – core
  • Management system auditing (Exemplar Global-AU)
  • Leading management system audit teams (Exemplar Global-TL)
  • Management system auditing (Exemplar Global-AU)
  • Leading management system audit teams (Exemplar Global-TL)
  • Management systems for drinking water quality (Exemplar Global-DW)
  • Management systems for recycled water quality (Exemplar Global-RW)
Knowledge requirements - scopes
  • Management systems for drinking water quality (Exemplar Global-DW)
  • Management systems for recycled water quality (Exemplar Global-RW)
 
 
Qualification requirements No change A degree or diploma recognised in Australia in the fields of engineering, science or medicine
 Work experience
No change

Seven years full-time work experience in at least two of the following areas:

  • water industry, employed either directly in the water industry or as a consultant to the water industry (e.g. engineer, laboratory or environmental consulting)
  • role(s) related to establishing, reviewing or managing systems for quality management, environmental management, risk management, or hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP)
  • role(s) related to conducting audits of management systems for quality, environmental risk or HACCP
 
 Personal attributes  No change
Appropriate personal attributes defined in ISO 19011:2011 – Guidelines for auditing management systems. The defined personal attributes must be demonstrated through the completion of the e-based PAAS Master® assessment
 Skills examination  No change
Applicants for WQMS Auditor and Lead Auditor grades must perform an audit in the presence of a skills examiner